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Queens Chronicle

Borough EDC forms new tourism council

Hopes to put Queens on tourists’ maps

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Posted: Thursday, March 1, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:41 pm, Thu Mar 8, 2012.

The Queens Economic Development Corporation has established a new Tourism Council to promote the borough. At their first-ever meeting on Monday, held at Long Island City’s Z Hotel, the 23-member group voted on who would form its executive committee, according to Rob MacKay, the QEDC’s tourism director.

MacKay said he was hired in August in part to spearhead the tourism initiative.

“There was something called the Queens Tourism Council, but they didn’t really do much,” he said of a previous group that formed in the late 1980s.

The new group would try to build on the increased numbers of tourists to the borough, MacKay said. “There’s an authenticity to Queens that tourists love,” noted Seth Bornstein, the QEDC’s executive director, in a statement.

Increased cross-promotion between member hotels, cultural institutions and entertainment venues will also be a Tourism Council goal, along with revamping the “Discover Queens” website, MacKay said. He hopes to have a council kiosk at the U.S. Open; the United States Tennis Association is a council member.

“Brooklyn has this great mojo,” he said of tourism there. “We have to get Brooklyn’s mojo.”

On the Tourism Council’s newly selected executive committee are Steve Hofstetter, owner of LIC’s Laughing Devil Comedy Club; Doris Del Valle, founder of tour company Borough Excursions; Carrie Kowk, a Mets representative; Jennifer Matthews of the USTA; Deborah Van Cura of the Greater Astoria Historical Society; Lisa Gneo, the Z Hotel’s sales director; and Jeffrey Reich-Hale, sales director for LIC’s Wyndham Garden hotel, set to open next month.

Nine hotels are part of the council, as are cultural institutions like the Louis Armstrong House Museum, the New York Hall of Science and the Noguchi Museum, along with sports giant the Mets, MacKay said. The group will meet again in two weeks, and will have a meeting every two months thereafter, he added.

Borough President Helen Marshall supports the council, which she said in a statement would “help boost the number of tourists.” MacKay said there are more than 80 hotels in Queens, and that city records show some 7 million tourists spent $3 billion here in 2010.

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